5 Great Books for Psychology Majors

There are countless great psychology books, but many of them are either dry, expensive, or out-of-print. With more and more titles being published every year, it’s getting tougher to answer the question, “What are the essential books that psychology majors must read?” Today, however, we’d like to answer that very question.

Here are our picks for the five best books for psychology majors; they differ quite a bit from the choices made by Psychology Today. While we like many of the books on their list, we’ll explain the reasoning behind each of our choices below. Even though they may or may not be in your course syllabus, we think you’ll pick up a lot from each of the following titles:

1. Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes

Our first choice of books for psychology majors is Daniel Keye’s fictional classic about an imagined therapy that brings a special needs man to a genius level of intelligence. Throughout, it illuminates many hidden aspects of human nature that psychology majors as well as the general public will likely find fascinating and illuminating.

2. Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely

As a psychology professional, one needs to develop a sympathy and an understanding for why people behave the way they do. Although Predicatably Irrational is more of a “pop science” book, it contains many valuable and unique lessons that make it one of the most useful books for majors in psychology.

3. Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn

What separates human consciousness from animal consciousness? This is an important question to therapists and psychologists, because it is one of the barriers we have to understanding our own minds. This brilliant work of speculative fiction imagines an intelligent gorilla who is able to shine a light on our anthropocentrism and self-centeredness as humans. As a psychology professional, it’s crucially important to examine situations from as objective a standpoint as possible, and this book accomplishes just that. If you enjoyed Quinn’s writing, this highly imaginative work is followed by two spiritual sequels: The Story of B, and My Ishmael.

4. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks

This abnormal psychology classic remains one of the best books for psychology majors. Oliver Sacks, subject of the Hollywood movie Awakenings, details some of his most intriguing and confusing cases. It’s one of the best books for psychology majors to explore the incredible ability of the human mind to construct its own reality.

5. A Child Called It, by Dave Pelzier

This one is not for the faint of heart, but then again, neither is a career in psychology. Detailing scenes of the author’s own intense psychological abuse as a young child, this book takes an unflinching look at what it takes to move past childhood trauma and abuse. It’s a must-read book for psychology majors, parents, and just about anybody who wants to understand the nature of the abused mind.

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Those are our choices for the five best books for psychology majors, each shining a light on hitherto unexplored areas of the human mind. Though they are all accessible works, they each challenge the reader in their own way and expand their horizons in a way that’s essential for development as a psychology professional.

Do you agree with our picks for the five great books for psychology majors? If you have questions, comments, or your own book suggestions, feel free to let us know below!